Laura and I are about to start on a multitude of fairly large outdoor projects. They range from small tasks like painting around the outside windows and mulching the flower beds, to installing over 200 feet worth of vinyl privacy fence around the perimeter of the backyard so we don’t have to watch the fat neighbor family behind us waltz around shirtless while they burn pieces of their pool in a campfire. Despite the fact I’m nowhere near a handyman, I’ve decided we need to take on all our projects ourselves for two reasons: I like working with her on things for the house, and not paying labor to some douche saves mad coin. Besides, I’ve been getting better with handy things since we’ve had our house. I learned to install faucets and toilets, I can hammer a nail like nobody’s business, and I stained the wood floors. I even cleaned up some of my attic that one time.
Last Sunday we had our usual morning feast of Border Scrambles at Bob Evans and headed across the street to Home Depot. We grabbed a cart and marched into the store, chock full of determination and eagerness. The weather was an abnormal 70 degrees and sunny that day, so the store was full of happy people high out of their minds on Vitamin D, eager to get out and do things.
One thing I don’t own many of and don’t know much about are tools. Especially power tools. That’s manly territory. To get started on our flower beds and fencing, we have a lot of shrubbery and small trees and disgusting bushes covered with horrible prickly pricklers that need to be all sorts of gone. I don’t even know how to describe some of these plants. I also don’t understand why my grandfather had such an apparent affection for foliage that is keen to cause bodily harm when you touch it.
“Let’s go look at chainsaws and pole saws,” I said to the wifelady, hoping to find the right power tools to remove these horrendous creatures from my yard. Having never been to this aisle before, we weren’t exactly sure where it was. When we finally saw it we hesitated for a moment, unsure about entering. Two other guys were there, and a feeling washed over me. It’s that feeling you get when you’re not sure you’re supposed to be in a place. Like they know you don’t belong. Carrie started running through my head – “They’re all going to laugh at you!”
The chainsaws looked just like the ones I’ve seen in movies. That’s how I knew we were in the right place. I picked a few up, read the boxes, pretended like I had any idea what I was looking at, and wondered why white plastic hockey masks weren’t hanging on the peg hooks as a required accessory.
We discussed whether or not chainsaws come boxed with the chain, because we didn’t know. I read box literature about horsepower and amps and other words that mean something to me in other contexts but not in chainsaws. I decided I’d just get an electric one, since none of the stuff I need to chop down is incredibly big and I didn’t want to mess with gas. I started gauging chainsaw qualities by how well I could visualize them chopping through a human femur. All of them seemed like they’d do the trick. Judgment made with Dead Rising as my reference material.
Just as we were discussing how the L-shaped boxes the saws are packed in look funny, some manly man man came over and asked me if I’d ever been to the tool store at the outlet mall near our house.
“No,” I replied. Clearly he didn’t see me pull up in the car with the Star Trek Federation logo on the back window or understand my Zelda 8-bit hearts t-shirt.
“I sort of forgot that was up there. Do they have nice things?” I asked, trying to sound interested.
“They’ve got some good [insert brand name I forget] chainsaws up there. Nice deals. Refurbished, but perfect.”
I didn’t point out the oxymoron and thanked him for the information. He left, and I exhaled.
Laura and I gave each other the same look. The one where we confirm we don’t know how to interact with strangers in stores who think they should talk to us. “I got through that one okay,” I said to her, doing a Success Kid face and fist pump, turning back to the chainsaws.
“These all look the same. I need to read reviews online,” I said. “Everything looks great in a box.” I also noted the cheapest one was $100, which would be valuable information when Amazon shopping.
Fast forward to yesterday and my brand new Poulan electric chainsaw arrived from Amazon 28 hours after I ordered it, delivered conveniently by UPS to the front door of the house two doors down. It came in a magical black and green box, and is officially the first real power tool I’ve ever bought. Laura said she wants to buy me a suit of armor to wear when I use it.
My first inclination was to open it up and try it out yesterday afternoon. I was done with work early, the sun was out, and it seemed like it would be fun to go outside and hack some plant life to death.
“But I should probably wait until a time when you’re home. You know, in case I cut off half my hand or something and need taken to the hospital,” I said to her on the phone.
“Have you ever used a chainsaw before?” she asked.
“Of course not. I held one once, commented on how its box looked funny, and then put it back on the shelf when that guy started talking to us,” I told her. “I’ve killed thousands with one in video games, though. And I used to sing along to Limp Bizkit’s ‘Break Stuff’ back in 2000, which is largely about motherfucking chainsaws (WHAT!)”
“Yeah, maybe you should wait then.”
Then I took it one step too far.
“I did pay Balimund for five levels worth of smithing training outside the Scorched Hammer, but I still don’t think that makes me a master.”
…SO COME AND GET IT.